THE PARENTS: Jordyn Niermans, 29, and Curtis Niermans, 30, of Telford
THE CHILD: Ezra James, born Oct. 18, 2019
HIS NAME: Curtis didn’t want a “junior,” but was happy to share his middle name with their son. And “Ezra,” Biblical leader of the Jews who returned from exile in Babylon, struck Jordyn as an auspicious name that worked for both a child and an adult.
He wanted to make out. She preferred to just hold hands.
And because they were 13, hunkered in a photo booth at Dorney Park in the midst of a downpour during a church retreat, that difference became a deal breaker. They didn’t talk for another four years.
Then Curtis wandered into the Souderton Wawa where Jordyn worked. “I gave her this huge hug like I’d known her all my life,” he recalls. He’d just returned from a stint in an inpatient drug rehab in Arizona. Their first date was at an Applebee’s, then a pool hall.
“Two weeks in, he said, ‘I love you,’ ” Jordyn recalls. “I wasn’t convinced, at first. But I felt comfortable with him right away.”
At 20, eager to get out of her family’s home, Jordyn rented Curtis’ parents’ in-law suite. On her first weekend there, Curtis invited her for breakfast on his parents’ side of the house: a plate of waffles ringed with strawberries.
Jordyn popped one of the berries into her mouth. “There was a ring inside. The first bite I took. I started crying. It was like winning the lottery.”
They were married the following year, August 2011, at Raystown Lake, a Niermans family retreat that Jordyn initially hated — she didn’t enjoy water sports and the family spent nearly all day on a boat — but had come to love.
Her uncle played bagpipes at the ceremony, and their sound rippled across the water. “I wasn’t scared or anxious until the ride [to the lake],” Jordyn recalls. “Then I felt like I was on the top of a roller-coaster, waiting to drop.”
Curtis wept when she walked toward him. After a picnic reception, the two drove off in a buddy’s brand-new Mustang.
They did not want children. They felt content with their lives, their freedom, the ability to sleep in or spend hours outside, gardening. Jordyn loved being the “fun aunt” to her nieces and nephews.
Besides, after 13 years together with no unintended pregnancies, they figured one of them might not even be fertile. Which is why Curtis was bewildered last February when Jordyn handed him a thick envelope she said was a late Valentine’s gift.
“I thought, ‘What kind of cash is rolled up in here? Did you win the lottery?’ I open the thing, and it’s got two [pregnancy] test sticks.”
Jordyn remembers a look of shock, or maybe terror. “Then he turned to me, excited and happy. It was a relief.” Her own attitude took time to shift. “When I first found out, I was devastated, not sure if I really wanted this. There were so many unknowns. I wasn’t sure what it was going to do to our relationship.”
At each midwife appointment, she asked, “Is it real? Are you sure I’m pregnant?” At home, Curtis leapt into action: doing the dishes and the laundry, experimenting with the air fryer he’d bought Jordyn for her birthday, offering foot rubs around the clock.
They invited friends and relatives for a gender reveal: dart-tossing at a cluster of black balloons that Jordyn’s sister had filled with yellow paint. Except for one.
“Someone hit it, and I was stunned,” Curtis says. “Blue. BLUE. Ohh … it’s a boy!”
As the October due date neared, Jordyn felt anxious about the pain of childbirth, while Curtis had a revolving loop of worries that chased through his mind: What if mother or baby didn’t survive the birth? What if he wasn’t available when Jordyn’s labor began? What if he passed out in the delivery room?
But he was there to drive her to Einstein Medical Center Montgomery, her contractions already five minutes apart. He was by Jordyn’s side while she walked the hospital halls, and he was the one who figured out that she wanted silence in the labor room during each push.
“The whole three hours, I held my breath with her, almost every single one. I could see the crest of his head, about two inches in diameter. In reality, that wasn’t even half of his head. When he first popped out, I thought, ‘How did that just come out of that?’ I was crying, holding my breath, as close as I could be. It was the absolutely craziest moment of my life.”
Jordyn held the baby briefly. “I was so exhausted, I could barely look at him. I needed that moment to say, ‘I’m done.’ ” So Curtis was the one to peel off his shirt for an hour of skin-to-skin cuddling with Ezra.
For three nights in the hospital, none of them slept for more than an hour at a time. “It was rough. I was delusional at a couple of points,” Curtis says. “But I loved snuggling with him. I loved tending to my wife’s needs.”
In a flash, their priorities re-sorted themselves. Jordyn, always a neat freak who would clean the house obsessively before friends arrived, now lets the chaos be. “Before, I didn’t understand why people showed up late or couldn’t come to things. Now I’m more understanding of those around me.”
They want to model healthy communication for Ezra — “that you have a right to have an emotion, and how you respond to that emotion is really important,” Curtis says. They hope he will have a solid sense of identity and good, steady friends, that they will find the sweet spot between rigid and lax parenting.
For now, there’s this: Ezra nearly asleep in his father’s arms, Binky plugged into his mouth, blanket just fringing the top of his head. “I looked down and gave him a kiss on his cheek and he gave the cutest little giggle, like, ‘I got you, Dad. You thought I was going to sleep, but I’m just messing with you.’